About Bulgaria - ICN

"Since the creation of the world and up to the 15th C. architecture stands out as the great book of mankind, its major means of expression... ", said Victor Hugo. The architectural heritage of Bulgarian country has written our exceptionally rich history in stone, wood and brick. It can be traced in the first manifestations of building activity, in prehistoric dwellings and dolmens, through ancient and medieval monuments, unique complexes of the Bulgarian National Revival, to contemporary artistic architectural works. The high culture of the Thracians from the 4th-3rd centuries B.C. is reflected in the Kazanluk and the Sveshtari tombs and in the ruins of the ancient town Sevtopolis. Magnificent is the written on stone history of the Greek colonies along the Black Sea coast - Odessos, Mesemvriya, Apollonia, etc.; the Roman towns and fortresses Nicopolis ad Istrum, Serdika, Philippopolis, Ulpia Oescus, etc., with their numerous, still standing temples, villas, tombs, public edifices. Among the early Christian monuments noteworthy are the basilicas (the Old Bishopric in Nesebur, St. Sophia in Sofia). The Bulgarian architectural tradition was founded and highly appreciated in the time of the First Bulgarian Kingdom especially the architecture of the metropolises Pliska and Preslav. With the conversion to Christianity extensive building of churches and monasteries begins. Despite the considerable influence of Byzantine culture, the Bulgarian architecture follows a comparatively independent route - from the grandiose buildings of the First Bulgarian Kingdom (the Large Basilica in Pliska, the Round Church in Preslav) to the elegance and decorativeness of the Turnovo and Nesebur churches (11th-14th centuries). A new upsurge in the Bulgarian architecture sets in during the Bulgarian National Revival (second half of the 18th C. - 1878). The architectural reserves of Arbanasi, Zheravna, Koprivshtitsa, Plovdiv, Shiroka Luka and others, bear the signs of Renaissance cheerfulness and striving for beauty. The newly built churches and monasteries represent a synthesis of the arts and a harmonious unity with nature - the monasteries of Rila, Bachkovo, Rozhen, Preobrazhenie and others. These are achievements of self-taught master builders, most famous among them Nikola Fichev (Kolyo Ficheto), Gencho Kunev, Aleksi Rilets and others. After the Liberation of 1878 the capital and the big towns are modernized and change in appearance. The attempts at creative interpretation of the classic approach and the national architectural tradition make for the overall face of architecture at the beginning of the century: the National Assembly, the Synodical Chamber, the Sofia University, the Mineral Baths in Sofia, etc. The foreign architects who work here in the years after the Liberation are gradually ousted by diplomaed Bulgarian architects: Nikola Lazarov, Pencho Koichev, Petko Momchilov, Yordan Milanov, etc. Rationalism and neoclassicism penetrate architecture, the Bulgarian architects level up with their colleagues in Europe. The intense striving for representativeness towards the end of the 40-ies and the beginning of the 50-ies, achieved through the interpretation of historic styles and forms, defines the architecture of the capital centre around the "Largo" constructed at that time. The contemporary Bulgarian architecture follows the world architectural trends on the basis of age-old tradition and the principles of medieval and renaissance building art on the Bulgarian lands.